DECATUR — Building enrollment at Millikin University is too important to be left just to the experts.

That’s the philosophy of new President Patrick White, who is relying on an old hand to help him bring everybody on board with the recent resignation of Joseph Havis as director of admission. Lin Stoner, dean of admissions from 1987 until his retirement in 2005, started work Dec. 2 as interim director.

“Lin was quite effective at relating to prospective students and parents, but we all have to be good at this, no matter what our position is,” White said. “Faculty members in particular need to be involved in selling what we do here.”

White added that the personnel change, while unexpected, gives Millikin the chance to “rethink the position” of admission director as it seeks to reverse a trend that saw the size of the incoming freshman class shrink by about 85 students between last year and this year.

The university currently has 2,300 students enrolled.

Havis left Nov. 29 to become interim vice president of enrollment at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark., under President Rich Dunsworth, formerly vice president of enrollment at Millikin. He took the position as a preliminary step to relocating to the St. Louis area, from which he and his wife Jody Cox originally came.

He has worked in the admission office ever since he graduated from Millikin in 2004 and was the university’s employee of the year in 2008. He also earned a master’s degree in education administration in 2008 from Eastern Illinois University.

“The faculty, staff and students have supported me in ways that are indescribable and will always have a great impact on my career and perspective as a person,” Havis said. “I have great faith in Millikin, its mission and vision, and look forward to engaging the institution as a proud alum.”

Like Havis, Stoner was hired by Millikin upon his graduation, starting as an athletic recruiter in 1972 and appointed as an admissions counselor the following year. He said recruiting students is labor-intensive and all about building relationships with them.

But he agrees with White that faculty are in the best position to “seal the deal.”

Originally from western Pennsylvania, Stoner said he found success at Millikin after dropping out of four other colleges.

“I was used to trying to skate by, doing as little as possible,” he recalled. “The work ethic and genuineness of the people here were what I needed at the time.

“Believe me, I got more out of Millikin University than they ever got out of me, and I’m happy to come back and do whatever I can to help.”

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